Monday, May 25, 2009

Morphing Into My Mother

It started several years ago, when I began working with children. Occasionally I would hear my mother. And realize, no, that was me. Then later when I began to work in a high school, my mother really came out. A few times I sounded so much like my mother that I turned around to make sure she was not behind me. I believe that was when I used the phrase, " I am not Asking you..." I KNOW! But really, come on, hormonal high schoolers sometimes (always) need firmness. This is not a issue, that I am turning into my mother. I like her. I love her too, she is my mother. But I LIKE her as well, I appreciate who she is as a person, she is my confidante and friend. So when I occasionally heard her voice coming out of my mouth I was not horrified. But NOW I am. I am starting to sleep like her. Which means not really. What the HELL is up with this shit?!? Bülent and I go to bed, and Bülent goes to sleep. And I lay there, sometimes for hours. I often fall asleep just as the morning call to prayer starts. I love him, but I really don't feel the need to watch him sleeping for hours each night. Looking at him lying there so peacefully just irritates me. It just seems smug. Or rather snug.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Last night we went to Bülent's cousins wedding. It was fun, and also interesting to see how Turkish weddings differ from weddings in the US. Some of the traditions were different, but over all, it appeared very similar to a US wedding.
In Turkey, weddings are always civil ceremonies presided over by a government official. There are no lavish religious ceremonies. The wedding last night included the ceremony, and then cocktails and hor dourves followed by cake, but they can also included dinners and lunches. It is not common here for the couple to "register" for gifts as they do in the US. Instead the couple is gifted with gold. After the ceremony, the families of the bride and groom approach the bride and give her their gifts--jewelry. By the end of this the bride was draped in gold necklaces and bracelets. She also had evil eyes pinned to her dress, to protect her from bad karma.
The rest of the wedding was pretty typical wedding stuff, small talk and dancing.
One notable difference between this wedding and others I have attended, had nothing to do with the geography. The bride, and her sister, are ballerinas. As were many of their friends. This created a wedding where there were many beautiful, svelte women who danced extraordinarily well, ruining the bell curve for the rest of us.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wine Saga

It has been beautiful for the past few days. Ne güzel bir gün. The weather is amazing. It has been in the 80's with a delicious breeze. For this reason we wanted to enjoy time out on our balcony. What better way to do this than with chilled white wine (or beer depending on who you talk to.)

So on Saturday we headed to the grocery store. I bought a nice white, threw it in the freezer to chill while I cooked dinner. After cooking dinner, putting the leftovers away, cleaning and reorganizing the fridge (it looks beautiful. A piece of art.) I was ready for my glass of wine on the balcony. I pour a glass. Odd, I thought I bought white, not a Rose. I took a big sip (o.k., guzzle, it had been a long day. I had scrubbed the inside of the fridge.) Oh dear Lord Have MERCY. It was bad. BAD. SPOILED. It looked like sherry and tasted like...well, imagine.

I had been looking forward to this glass of wine for hours. This is not something I can deal with. Bülent and I head to the grocery store to return the wine. Apparently returning items is NOT common in Turkey. But, come on now. I even poured the glass back into the bottle, including the sip I had actually spit back into the glass originally, so that we could see we had not even had a sip. They took it back and gave us store credit, no problems. So off to the wine we went( it was 9:30 they close at 10.) I picked out another bottle, different brand. When we got home I poured a glass, it was the right color. I went out to the balcony with Bülent and his beer, and ook a sip. It was spoiled. No. It can't be I thought. I must be skeeved out, it has to be my imagination.

It was not. It was bad. I poured it out in the sink today. And this afternoon, I bought a third brand of wine, at a different store. It only took three days, but I finally had a glass of wine out on the balcony. And it was as delicious as the breeze.

Monday, May 18, 2009


It is amusing that I discovered Jesus in a nation of Islam. Do you remember Tulumba or "If Jesus was a Baker?" Well, today I found Kitir, or "If Jesus was a Butcher." I have had Kokoreç before. But this place is AMAZING. It is kind of a hole in the wall. But one of those great places that will never go out of business, because they put food first and decor last. I had two 1/4 sandwiches today. Which means instead of a huge big sandwich they take the bread and literately cut off a quarter of it to make you a sandwich. Perfect, nice and small, because I wanted two. I had Kokoreç which is ridiculous. The absolute BEST Kokoreç you will ever have in your life. Then I have media tava, fried mussels with a Turkish tartar sauce. Also super delicious.

This is right about when I found religion. And it tasted good.
News on the Tech Front: If you had subscribed to my RSS Feed it has moved so you will have to Update your subscription. All two of you. Hi Mom, Hi Dad. And if you haven't, go ahead. Do it!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

All Errands Done=No Deportation

Yesterday was a busy day. You know errands, those inconsequental things, well sometimes they are inportant. Maybe boring, but important.

Like our first task, getting Bülent's second chest film to ensure he does not have tuberculosis. Which Yay! He doesn't, it was just that his pneumonia was so advanced and far spread throughout his lungs like it looked like TB. Task two, getting my residency permit, so that I wont get deported because my visa expires on Monday. I am now legal. It was pretty intersting, to get it we had to go to the Police Station there were about 10 steps in the process, so I was kind of like a treasure hunt, running from one office from another. I love the Turkish system. Everything is negotiable. At one point we were asked for bank statements proving I had enouogh money to support myself through the time I would be staying in the country, which we didn't have. Bülent was prepared and brought a fair amount of liras, and asked the Officer if it would be acceptable to show him how much money he had in his wallet. It was and it worked. Fantastic!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

He Loves Me....Hardcore

And here is the proof:

I know he asked me to marry him. He loves me immensely and wants to spend the rest of his life with me. Also, he gave me a very elegant engagement ring and ever so properly asked my parents first. However, the other day we went makeup shopping for his cousin's wedding. This may sound simple. But it is not.

First off, we went to the biggest mall in town, which was packed with people. This is a man who dislikes going to a grocery store when it is open, because of the people. He would prefer to have dental surgery, without anesthesia. So we braved the mall, found the makeup store, and had my makeup done, for forty minutes. In case you didn't know, I don't speak Turkish. I sat on my chair while the ladies did my makeup, commenting on the color scheme, making suggestions. He sat next to me, translating their comments and suggestions to me, and then my answers to them. We ran into some trouble because he did not know the Turkish words for eye shadow or eyeliner, but it was quickly figured out. And then we came home with a color scheme. And the terms for make up in his native language.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother's Day Brunch

While my own mother is on a different continent far away, this is what she would have enjoyed had we been less than 6000 miles apart. Instead I made this for Bülent's mother and grandmother. The menu was as follows:

Broccoli and Feta Quiche

Instead of pie crust I used Yufka, a savory fillo type product that is used to make böreks.

French Toast with Strawberry Syrup

I had to make the syrup because Maple Syrup is not commercially available.
I used about a pound of strawberries, pureed and boiled down with sugar, fresh orange juice and orange rind, which gave it a nice bright flavor. Credit to Emeril Lagasse for the recipe.

Fruit Salad

Simit and Poğaça
Cheese Plate and
Tomato and Cucumber plate (Traditional Turkish accouterment)

I did send my mother some tulips and a card. I am not a completely horrible daughter (unless you count the fact that I have moved so far away). And thanks to Skype we had a nice chat.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Us 1 - Mercutio 3

First the good news. No one in this house has Tuberculosis, Yay! Not that we were worried about it, a]or getting tested for it. Or coughing up blood. So take that Mercutio! A plague on our houses! Weak!

But I will give him another point, just for being a pain in my ass. More accurately, my lower back. So yesterday to keep the guilt from eating me alive I helped clean the apartment. I was helping move the futon and I bent over and lifted (stupid!) and I felt something pop, or move. When I stood up it hurt so badly that I thought I was going to pass out, you know when your vision gets blurry and goes in and out? Whoooo!

It is still killing me. I can't bend over or use any of my lower back muscles. Ibuprofen didn't make a dent at all, neither did Bengay, heat or stretching. A couple of martinis did help me sleep. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sitting On My Ass...Uncomfortably

There is nothing wrong with my ass people. Quite the opposite actually. However, it is feeling guilty. Here is the back story, which you need to know to understand the level of guilt I feel.

I am not religious. At all. When I enter a church my fiancee takes a step away from me, just in case God decides to strike me down. There are only a few reasons I enter church in the first place, funerals, weddings, or the memorial Mass, which in our family we affectionately call the "death brunch" for the food that follows after. My parents are not particularly religious either. My father is an agnostic (or as I like to call it "hedging his bets") and my mother is spiritual and involved with a non discriminatory church community. However, on my mother's side the entire family is Catholic. Irish Catholic. Nine Children Catholic. With Catholics guilt is a way of life, about sins and sex and the like. While I am not Catholic, I have inherited the guilt. Not about the sex but about everything else.

More Back story:
Bülent and I have a division of labor. I am the Cooking Bitch, and he is the Cleaning Bitch. I am in charge of preparing all food, grocery shopping and nutrition and he cleans the house, does the dishes and the laundry, etc.

So our house needed to be cleaned. We had been away for three weeks so it had gotten dusty, and then Bülent had been so sick he hadn't been cleaning. I had been doing the laundry and dishes and kitchen, but everything else needed a good going over. Bülent's mother, Suzan, knows of this arrangement, and knew that we had both been sick. So she had the idea to hire a cleaning woman so that Bülent who is still not totally better could still rest. However, to hire a woman to come clean means that they will need to be supervised and told what and where to clean. I cannot do that as I do not speak Turkish well enough. So Suzan came over to do it. She shooed us out of the house so we would be out of their way. So the cleaning woman and Suzan proceeded to clean the entire apartment. Granted it needed cleaning, but it was not filthy. But Suzan has the gift of INCREDIBLE attention to detail. For example as I was leaving I saw she had the cleaning woman scrubbing down the outside of our luggage. The luggage! So this was a scrub down of immense proportion. So they start at at and we came back at 4 and they were still at it. She told us to sit down and read or use our laptops. So my guilt is centers around a clean apartment which I did not clean (which is not my division of labor.) When I started this, they were still cleaning. And the guilt was so large that I wanted to pull my bottom lip over my face and swallow. Instead I will try to assuage the guilt, i.e. HELP. So I am off to iron sheets. I did not realize that sheets needed to be ironed. Whoops, more guilt.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mmmm....Convenience Where Did You Go?

I just finished making:
Eggplant Parmesean
Bannana Bread
Mushroom Soup

Which should be incredibly tasty but is alot more work here. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Turkey. And the food. One of the great things about the food is that everything is fresh and homemade. There is very little pre-prepared or processed food here. However the downside is that everything is homemade. In the US to make eggplant Parmesan I would buy tomato sauce, Italian breadcrumbs and probably shredded cheese (parm and mozzarella). Here to make eggplant Parmesan I had to make tomato sauce, make bread crumbs and then shred the cheese. Which means before I even start making the eggplant parm I have to dice onions and tomatoes, season and stew them. Slice and toast the bread, season and grind it. Whine.

To tell you the truth, for dessert, I probably would have made boxed brownies or spiced up a box cake. However, since those are not available, I baked a homemade banana bread.

Update: Dinner was tasty.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Little Different

As you can see, things are changing. I decided to get a little more on top of my blog (and give it a real name). In a few days I will be moving to a new domain, though don't worry, you will still be able to get here through the old address. I know you were petrified. It has been quiet today. I am pretty much well, and had my last antibiotic. You know what that means... My liver can now handle wine! Yay! Bülent is still off the liquor because of his heavy duty meds. He is a little bummed about it, as he just got back from a alcohol free stint in the military barracks. We wanted to go out and, "paint the town red," so to speak. But not at the expense of our livers. So now I am safe, but he is not. Technically I would not be "drinking alone," just be the only one drinking, which has an entirely different connotation. Off the the fridge I go!


I was cruising the Internet and found an interesting blog. I love reading blogs because they are so diverse, the thoughts and perusing of individuals whose only similarity could be their use of their Internet. So many posting are inspired by daily life, and through that you see how people really do cherish so many of the same things, like family, love, politics, relationships. Maybe not in the same way, some with wit and irreverence, others with an earnestness that makes you cringe. The reason these strangers blogs are interesting to me is that we are all a part of the fabric of humanity. We are the threads that are woven in, some us us my be threadbare, or vibrant or even knotted, but we all create a whole together.

That is what I was reminded of when I read this blog by Tangobaby. In a split second, instead of walking by, of shaking her head, keeping her eyes focused on the sidewalk, she made a difference. An enormous one. One that has snowballed. A woman and her three children now are not hungry, or cold. They have received donations and help. Emotional support. This woman escaped violence only to trade it for fear. The fear her children may go hungry, may be cold, scared, and not have shelter. Go to Tangobaby's blog and read her words. Help if you can. She has made an enormous difference in this one family's life. Others as well, I dare say, due to the political turmoil she is stirring up. To change things, to make things better, you don't need to be heroic. Check out my friend Coltempo, who proves that PB&J can be compassionate.

The first step is eye contact, the rest is just figuring out how closely woven you are to the other in the fabric of humanity.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Us 0- Mercutio 2: The Plague Continues

The Plague now has an official name: Pneumonia. I have escaped with the broken glass with bleach poured on sore throat which responded beautifully to antibiotics. Barely any discomfort anymore, I am just tired. Bülent on the other hand has been hit hard. He has been on antibiotics for a week and a half and still gets fevers every night, is extremely fatigued, coughing and sputtering. AND SWEATING. Granted, this man normally puts out heat like a furnace at night. However, this is ridiculous, and a little scary. He sweats SO much at night I am afraid when I wake up he will look like a wizened piece of beef jerky. Last night he went to bed earlier than I did, so when I went to bed an checked on him, everything was soaking wet. He got up to get some water ( to replenish the gallon he had lost) and I actually changed the sheets and blankets. The saddest thing was that his pillow was also damp, so I went to flip it over (don't judge, it was 2 am) and the other side was already wet! Tomorrow he is going to get some chest x-rays just to make sure everthing is healing. But for now I am making sure that he drinks lots of water during the day so that in the morning I do not wake up next to a man that I could break over my knee like driftwood.